Mushroom by Philippe Rouzet (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Every day of the week, Medium’s reading suggestions algorithm goes to work to provide me with the best selection of articles to confirm my existing biases, so that I can start the day with a smile, assured that my thinking is right while everyone else’s outside of my bubble is wrong. It’s a tough job, and sometimes the algorithm is tired and decides to take some shortcuts. Lately, these shortcuts have taken the form of shoving over to my inbox every article that tries to explain “what Agile is” to me and the unknowing world.

I ignored these suggestions for a while, hoping that the algorithm would get the hint. It didn’t, and my inbox continued to grow. So I eventually decided to take a cautious look inside. I opened several of the articles, and jumped from tab to tab, hoping to find something that was useful or at least funny. Alas, there was neither. “Other than Waterfall, Agile is a process where…”, the articles would start, and I would go bite a lemon to bring back my usual smile.

Finally, I decided to take action: I will write my own article that explains what Agile is, once and for all. It will be different from all other articles in that everything it says will be right, whereas everything the other articles say will remain wrong. Here it comes.

Agile is a mushroom.

You don’t believe what you are reading — that’s ok. It’s hard to face the truth. But bear with me, and you will see through the fog; and once you’ve seen the evidence, you will never doubt again. Unless, of course, you are an incurable dork and lack the intellectual capacity to understand the facts, in which case I cannot help you.

Let’s dig right in, I will do the research for you.

The term “mushroom” was never precisely defined, nor was there consensus on its application [Source]

Reminds you of something, doesn’t it? Did you notice how the manifesto never bothers to explain what “agile” means? There are 74400 hits on Google for “Agile is a process”, 35100 for “Agile is a methodology”, 52400 for “Agile is a framework” and 29600 for “Agile is a buzzword”.

What about “Agile is a mushroom”, you ask? Right now, while this article is being written, there are exactly 0 hits. That’s right, zero. Because they don’t want you to know. In fact, I won’t be surprised if Google hides this article once it is published. But I will not be silenced. The evidence is too overwhelming.

“Mushrooms are not plants, and require different conditions for optimal growth.” [Source]
Mushrooms derive all of their energy and growth materials from their growth medium [Source]

It does ring a bell, doesn’t it? Of course, the messages are coded, but remember how Agile transformations will always fail unless there is a “fertile ground”? Fertile ground!

If you still need more convincing, the second source link will take you to an article on Fungiculture. I suppose you know that fungi is a different word for mushrooms. You cultivate mushrooms. It’s all about culture, right? Damn, it’s so obvious.

Instead of seeds, mushrooms reproduce asexually through spores. Spores can be contaminated with airborne microorganisms, which will interfere with mushroom growth and prevent a healthy crop [Source]

This one is a little bit more tricky, but it hits you right in the face once you decode it. Let me help you through it. The picture below shows a sporic lifecycle.

Now, if you know a certain popular Agile development framework, I bet this picture looks familiar. Explaining every detail would take too much time, you can do your own research. Let me just point out how the most important things on the picture are individuals and interactions (illustrated by arrows). Also, you might not know what a zygote is, but let me just say that it is a cell formed by a fertilization event. It goes without saying that the event should be facilitated by an experienced coach.

I could go on and on, but enough said. Anyone with a brain and the ability to think for him- or herself has been given enough to ponder, and you can do your own research to settle any remaining doubts. After that, just as myself, you will become an adept, and together with me you will bear the burden of knowledge. To lift it, spread the word, share this with others and help me fight through all this nonsense about Agile being a process or framework or anything else but what it really is: a mushroom.

Agile Coach | Organisational Thinker | Munich, Germany

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